Did I Play All The Way Through?: Yes. I didn’t get all the pieces of heart and I didn’t go anywhere near the Nintendo Gallery this time, though.
How Does It Hold Up? Amazingly well. The stylized graphics still look incredible (especially upscaled on a Dolphin emulator)—better, even, then the Wii U HD version, which I’m honestly not a fan of. The remake’s realistic lighting and shadows look really strange with the simple cel-shaded characters and environments, and the light bloom is excessive. The original still looks like an actual cartoon—which was always the idea.
The gameplay, story and pacing are probably the most solid of all the 3D Zelda entries. The world feels huge and ripe for exploration, but it’s actually a very manageable size. There’s just enough stuff to see that by the time you’re running out, you’re already about ready to finish playing the game. There’s a good, fun variety of usable items but not so many that it becomes overwhelming.
And when you take sail on that vast blue sea with the wind at your back…I don’t think any other video game, ever, has so perfectly captured the feeling of setting out on an incredible adventure.
Most Pleasant Surprise: The big Triforce fetch quest at the end is not as long or annoying as I remembered it. At least, not if you already got the wallet upgrade and have been gathering Rupees for the last few dungeons to spend on Tingle’s exorbitant services.
Least Pleasant Surprise: Ganon’s Tower was anticlimactic. Having to re-fight four major bosses is just tedious—black and white filter or not. Puppet Ganon is an interesting concept and a cool visual, and the final battle with Ganon himself is a real challenge, but all in all it doesn’t have the feeling of really progressing to a big showdown that the best Zelda final dungeons have (Ocarina of Time being the best example).
Where Does Wind Waker Stand in My All-Time Zelda Rankings? In its best moments, I’m ready to put it at #1. But Majora’s Mask just barely edges it out, thanks to that game’s overall cohesion and wonderful oddness. So it gets the silver medal for now. We’ll see if Breath of the Wild shakes things up next year.